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‘Stalker’: One in three people killed by US police has fled, data shows – The Guardian of America

The data revealed that nearly a third of people killed by US police since 2015 were fleeing, driving or trying to flee when an officer shot them or used lethal force against them.

In the past seven years, police in America have killed more than 2,500 people who have fled, and those numbers have increased slightly in recent years, averaging roughly one death per day for someone running or trying to escape, according to Mapping. Police Violence, a research group that tracks deadly force cases.

In many cases, confrontations began as traffic stopped, or there were no allegations of serious violence or crimes that prompted police to call. Some of them were hit in the back while running, others were passengers in getaway cars.

Two recent cases have sparked national anger and protests. In Akron, Ohio, on June 27, officers shot Dozens of tours at Jayland Walker, who was unarmed and ran when he was killed. Last week, an officer in San Bernardino, California got out of an unmarked car and Immediately shoot Robert Adams While he was going in the opposite direction.

The data shows that despite decades of pressure to hold officers accountable for killing civilians, prosecutions remain extremely rare. Of the 2,500 people killed while fleeing since 2015, only 50 or 2% have resulted in criminal charges. The majority of these charges were dismissed or resulted in an acquittal. Only nine officers were convicted, accounting for 0.35% of the cases.

Police kill hundreds of people who flee each year in the United States, but they are rarely charged or convicted

Advocates and experts say the data highlights how the US legal system allows officers to kill with impunity and how reform efforts have not addressed fundamental loopholes in police departments.

“In 2014 and 2015, at the start of this national conversation about racism in policing, the idea was ‘There are rotten apples in police departments, and if we just charge these bad officers or fire them, we can save lives and stop the police,’ said Samuel Sinyangwe, data scientist and analyst. Policies who founded Mapping Police Violence, “This data shows that this is much larger than any individual officer.”


US police More people killed in days Compared to many countries in years, with nearly 1,100 deaths annually since 2013. The numbers have not changed since the start of the Black Lives Matter movement, and they She hasn’t budged since the murder of George Floyd She inspired international protests in 2020.

People in Newark, New Jersey, march to demand justice for Gayland Walker in July 2022. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The law has for years allowed police to kill civilians in a variety of circumstances. In 1985, the US Supreme Court Rule That officers cannot use lethal force against a fugitive unless they reasonably believe that person poses an imminent threat. But the court later said that the officer’s current state of mind and fear were relevant to determining whether the shooting was justified. This means that the killing can be considered justified if the officer claims he fears the person may be armed or sees them point at the waist belt – even if the victim turns out to be unarmed and the threat was not present.

As a result, very few police officers were charged. Civil rights attorney Adante Poynter said it wasn’t hard for officers to win when the case boils down to what the officer and the victim have in mind at the moment: “The only person left to tell the story is the cop.” “

In 2022 until mid-July, officers killed 633 people, of whom 202 escaped. In 2021, 368 victims escaped (32% of all deaths); In 2020, 380 (33%) escaped; And in 2019, 325 people (30%) fled, according to Mapping Police Violence. The data is based on media reports of people trying to escape and kill them, and is considered incomplete. In approximately 10% to 20% of all cases each year, the circumstances surrounding the shooting are unclear.

Black Americans are disproportionately affected, making up 32% of individuals killed by police while fleeing, but representing only 13% of the US population. Black victims were more represented in cases involving people fleeing on foot, and made up 35% to 54% of those deaths.

Black Americans are disproportionately killed while fleeing the United States.

Paula McGowan, whose son was born, said: “If someone is running away, there is no need to chase them, chase them like an animal and shoot and kill them.” Ronel Foster, was killed while on the run in Vallejo, California, in February 2018. The officer, Ryan McMahon, said he was trying to stop Foster, a 33-year-old father of two, because he was riding his bike without a light. Within about a minute of trying to stop him, the officer got into a fight and shot Foster in the back of the head. Officials later claimed that the unarmed man grabbed his flashlight and presented it “in a threatening manner”.

“These officers are very motivated and ready to shoot,” said McGowan, who has advocated for the officer’s firing and prosecution for years. Instead, the officer went to shoot another black man, Willie McCoy, after one year; He was one of six officers who shot dead a 20-year-old who was sleeping in his car. The officer was fired in 2020 — not for killing McCoy or Foster, but because management said he endangered other officers while shooting McCoy.

The city paid the Foster family $5.7 million in a civil case Colony in 2020, but she did not admit wrongdoing. McMahon’s lawyer He said The officer was trying to “simply speak to Mr. Foster” when he fled, adding that McMahon “believes his actions were reasonable under the circumstances”. Vallejo police did not respond to a request for comment.

“Not only do these officers get away with it, they move on to bigger and better jobs while leaving us broken and still trying to pick up the pieces,” said Miguel Menjares, his 16-year-old niece. Elena “Ebbie” Mondragon, was killed by the Fremont, California police.

Selfie portrait of a frowning woman in the camera.
Elena “Ebbie” Mondragon was murdered by Fremont police in March 2017. Photo: Courtesy of Miguel Menjares

In March 2017, undercover officers shot at a car that was fleeing, hitting Mondragon, who was a passenger and pregnant at the time. The officers did not face any criminal consequences. Records show that one sergeant went to work as a sniper in the department, although he has since retired, while the last participant in the operation continued to serve as a training officer.

“You’re shooting in a moving car, which you shouldn’t have done, and you weren’t about to hit the person you were trying to target. And now you’re a sniper?” Minjares said. “When I hear a sniper, I think of accuracy. It boggles my mind. It shows the entitlement of officers and the police department, they put people where they want them, it doesn’t matter what they did. It’s baffling and heart-wrenching.”

In June, five years after the murder, the family won $21 million in a civil trial, but it is unclear whether Frémont has changed any of its policies or practices.

A spokesman for Fremont declined to comment on Mondragon’s case and did not respond to questions about its policies.

Pay to prevent murder

In the rare cases where prosecutors bring criminal charges against police who killed fleeing people, the process often takes years and usually ends with the officer winning, either by judges or prosecutors dismissing the charges or acquitting the jury.

A young man in a dark blue graduation gown is standing on the street.
Robert Adams, 23, was shot and killed by police while on the run Photo: Courtesy of the family

In a case in Florida where an officer was investigating a store robbery and shot a man fleeing in a fatal truck, prosecutors filed charges and then drop the case A week later, he said that after reviewing the evidence, “it became clear that it would be very difficult to obtain a conviction.” In the Hawaii case where officers killed a 16-year-old in a car, a judge last year unacceptable All charges are barred from trial.

For the nine fugitive cases in which the officers were convicted or signed a plea bargain, the conviction and sentence were much lighter than the usual murders. The Georgia officer who killed an unarmed man was fleeing on foot His innocence of manslaughter In 2019, for example, but he was convicted of breaking his oath and sentenced to a year in prison. The deputy mayor of San Diego pleaded guilty earlier this year to premeditated murder after killing a fugitive, but avoided state prison and instead got One year in prison. and Representative from Tennessee, sinner Murdered by criminal negligence after shooting at a runaway car and killing the passenger, a 20-year-old woman, was sentenced to community service.

With the criminal system deeming nearly all of these killings legal, advocates have argued that cities should reduce unnecessary police encounters that can become fatal, such as ending traffic stops for minor violations and keeping police away from mental health calls. There were also increased efforts to prevent officers from shooting at moving cars.

California passed a major law in 2019 meant to Restriction of the use of lethal force In cases where it is “necessary” to defend human life, not just “reasonable,” he stated that an officer could only kill a fugitive if he believed that person would do imminent harm to someone. The new law also stipulated that prosecutors must look into the officer’s actions that led to the killing, which police groups have argued were irrelevant under previous criteria.

But after it was passed, police departments across the state refused to comply and update their policies, said Adriina Wong, the senior staff attorney for the Southern California Civil Liberties Union, who supported the bill. That’s only starting to change now after years of legal wrangling.

“I think we will start to see attorneys general take into account all elements of the new law, but I honestly am not holding my breath based on the track record of state attorneys general. We never thought this law would be a complete solution.”

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